Because we emphasise gun safety on the range, we’d like to share some additional pointers following a previous post on gun safety.
Learn the mechanics of your firearm
The mechanics of every firearm is different. That’s why Marksman’s Nest chief ranger Geoffrey Coetzee warns, “Don’t ever handle a firearm without first familiarising yourself with that particular firearm. And always observe the safe gun handling rules for loading, unloading, carrying and handling.
“Read the instruction manual carefully. Don’t try to guess how it works. For instance, one handgun manufacturer might recommend carrying its handguns with the hammer down on an empty chamber. They provide this recommendation for a reason!
“Once you’ve understood the firearm’s characteristics and safe use, then, and only then, can you try it out. If in doubt, sign up for a Marksman’s Nest safe gun handling course. Do the responsible thing if you’re new to firearms and get training! Gun safety is not a choice – it’s a MUST.”
Ensure that the barrel is clear of obstructions
Another good tip is to check the barrel of your gun. “Before loading your firearm, open the action to ensure that no ammunition is in the chamber or magazine. Clear any little obstruction, such as bits of mud or excess grease in the bore. Such obstructions could cause dangerously increased pressures. And, heaven forbid, the latter might cause the barrel to burst on firing. Needless to say, this has the potential to cause injury,” Geoffrey warned.
“We encourage shooters to adopt the habit of cleaning the bore with a cleaning rod immediately before shooting. Should the noise or recoil on firing seem weak, stop firing straight-away and check that no obstruction has lodged in the barrel.
“Pay close attention to each cartridge you insert into your firearm. By placing a smaller gauge into a gun, the smaller cartridge might fall into the barrel and cause a bore obstruction when you fire a cartridge of the proper size. You don’t want to sit with a burst barrel! So, do take care.”
Don’t modify your gun
Firearms are complicated mechanisms! Geoffrey said, “Experts design guns specifically to function properly in their original condition. Any after-market change to a firearm might make the gun dangerous. Plus of course the fact that factory warranties will be void. Please don’t jeopardise your safety or that of others by altering the trigger, safety or other mechanism on your firearm.”
Service your gun regularly
As recommended when you bought your gun, make a point of servicing it regularly. All mechanical devices are subject to wear and tear.
“We reiterate that we emphasise gun safety on the range,” Geoffrey said. “By following our safety procedures and developing safe shooting habits, you’ll enjoy many happy years of shooting like a pro.”
There’s no two ways about it: choosing a good stance for accurate pistol shooting makes all the difference. So, polish up with these helpful tips from Marksman’s Nest chief ranger Geoffrey Coetzee.
The correct shooting stance is the cornerstone of accurate pistol shooting. At the range, we’ll demonstrate how not to wobble in your stance and discuss the various stances in depth. Geoffrey said, “Depending what comes more naturally to you, you can make up your own mind about which stance to adopt. It also depends on whether you want to compete in shooting sports later, or if you have eye dominance issues. And in many cases, your instructor will assess your shooting prowess in the various stances and give you a recommendation.”
The Isosceles stance
In the Isosceles stance, the arms and chest make an isosceles triangle. The shooter faces the target squarely, feet at shoulder-width (or slightly wider) with toes pointed at the target. Arms are extended with the gun in the middle of the chest. There’s a slight lean forward and some bending of the knees. Usually, the shooter is more at an angle to the target.
Weaver Shooting Stance
Non-dominant leg is forward of the dominant leg with a slight forward lean (‘nose over toes’). Toes are pointed forward and the firing-side arm is extended while the supporting arm is bent. Importantly, the shooter employs a ‘push-pull’ grip by pushing with the firing arm and pulling back with the supporting arm.
The pros of this stance is that there’s better recoil management with the push-pull method; a smaller profile to target; and more stability since the feet are now staggered.
Geoffrey explained, “This is a more natural stance if you need to balance yourself. However, the cons are: it’s harder to rotate to your non-dominant side, it’s also harder for cross-dominant shooters (eg right-hand dominant and left eye dominant) since the two don’t match up.”
Modified Weaver Stance
Although it’s very similar to the Weaver Stance, your shooting arm is now fully locked out with the support arm bent downwards. This stance is also known as the Chapman Stance and is primarily geared towards right handed but left-eye dominant shooters.
He summarised, “The advantages are that the consistency of your arm ‘stock’ and ‘cheek-weld’ are always the same, instead of hovering in the air – as is the case with the Isosceles or Weaver stances. You also have better recoil management since the firing arm is fully extended. And finally, it’s better for crossed-eye dominant shooters seeing that with the cheek-weld, the opposite eye is more in line with the firearm.”
Visit Marksman’s Nest in Malmesbury to get to grips with the various stances. Because choosing a good stance for accurate pistol shooting makes all the difference.
Rifle shooting accuracy and competence for beginners starts with practice. But the all-important advice from Marksman’s Nest chief ranger Geoffrey Coetzee is, “First and foremost, get to know your gun.”
“You’ll start getting the feel of the gun by testing the weight and balance. Get familiar with the cheek weld. Once you’re comfortable, just put the sights in the middle of the target and pull the trigger. We’ll show you how to master the recoil.”
Now you have to learn to operate all of the rifle parts like a pro. Geoffrey recommended, “Practice smooth loading of the magazine and activate the safety for on and off without breaking away from the gun. Next step for a bolt-action rifle is operating the bolt smoothly and safely, or operating the semi-auto bolt. You must be able to perform all these operations with your cheek on the stock, plus your eye on the sights and target.
“Once you’ve mastered the above, start concentrating on your breathing. “Learn to maintain precise breath control and smoothing out the trigger pull effortlessly. Trigger control is paramount to become a top-notch rifle marksman.
“By floating your barrel – i.e. not allowing it to touch anything, including the stock – you’ll have more consistent and accurate shots. Therefore, your other hand should remain on the handgrip of the stock.”
The weight of the rifle will help absorb much of the recoil. Also, the weight will help with aim and staying on target. But that said, weight can also be a negative. Once the weight starts moving, it keeps moving. That means that muzzle sway might become a factor.
Flinching may be caused by the report from the barrel end, recoil from the gun butt or the blast from the end of the barrel. Geoffrey explained, “If you use a rifle with a longer barrel, the flinching effect will be lessened. However, if you don’t have a longer rifle, we advise wrapping a bandana around your face to act as a barrier of sorts between the blast or noise. But leaning into the gun also helps a lot.
“To master rifle shooting accuracy and competence for beginners, visit the range and we’ll show you how to shoot a rifle like a boss.”